Inevitably, one of the first questions that a new client brings up in our set-up sessions is “what lead generation sources are we going to use to get quality leads"?
And equally inevitable, is the glazed-over look that comes next when we begin to talk about organic search strategies. Before we even begin the review of existing processes, we have a pretty good idea of how the franchisor thinks based on what we gather from the initial overview of the website and social media strategy. What we typically find is:
There is no clear voice and style for content messaging for the franchise system
The social media is usually managed by the owners niece or nephew who has a Facebook page and Twitter account
Content on the website has not been updated since it was initially published
Page titles and keyword research is non existent
Large image files (and sometimes music) dominate the website landscape
So let me take a second and share what I know you already know. This poor franchisor has been spammed and called and received LinkedIn requests and Liked by every SEO Firm and expert on the planet. Some have engaged a company and stuck with them for a few months – didn’t see any substantial results and kicked them to the curb. They have sworn off any company who promises increased rankings and that would rather just keep the social media in the family.
Sound like someone you know? If your business or franchise is anything like most small businesses – the last things you believe you have time for is improving organic search results and social media engagement. So, could what you think be influenced by how you think and what you don’t know or understand?
Andy Andrews (one of my favorite authors and one of the great storytellers of all time) has a central character in a number of his books called Jones. Jones is fond of telling his flock “sometimes you just need a little perspective”. Webster’s Dictionary defines perspective "as the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance".
With that definition in mind let me pose a question to you.
When you started your business, did you network faithfully (even though you were out of your comfort zone) to attract new customers? Do you still network with the same frequency today? I would imagine that as your business has matured, your need to do the grassroots marketing/lead groups etc., that you did initially, may not be as important as it once was. And in the same vein, would you invest time and energy in improving your businesses organic SEO today (even though you are out of your comfort zone) if you were confident that it would pay huge dividends in the future?
Lets assume for a minute that the answer to the question is yes. Humor me for a moment and repeat after me . . . I “Your Name”, do commit to change how I think so that I can change what I think about the need for me to engage a different perspective on committing to long term strategy to improve the chances of a potential franchisee or customer finding my business. Whew! One long run on sentence – but packed with a commitment to view your future success from a different perspective. Ok, so now what?
First step, even before you find a company or person that you trust who can guide you through the process of selecting a company to work with, you must understand and commit to the realization that the SEO process takes time and needs to be a long term project that is constantly reviewed by you and your team. Once everyone has bought in to this thinking, you will be on your way to improving the relationship you have with existing customers and opening the door to new potential ones.
We have the pleasure of working with some incredible franchisors. I am not talking about the organization as much as I am the founder. Each of them have built hugely successful organizations (both affiliate and franchise locations) by flat-out delivering on a pledge to support franchisees and affiliate store team members by doing the basic things that made them successful from the get-go.
I know there are plenty of great franchise organizations out there, but I am just excited to be working side by side with the folks that we represent on a day-to-day basis. We talk to some 50 prospects a day for the brands we represent, and we always begin the conversation with a number of key questions that a prospect needs to consider when determining if our franchise opportunity is the right fit. From our standpoint, it all starts with the leadership, and specifically, the franchise founder. Personally, I think it is the most important question that the candidate will evaluate. Can I and/or do I want to form a partnership with this person?
The following six tangible characteristics may help a prospect during the due diligence process:
Can the founder or CEO “make the soup”? Is the top dog an operator or sales guy? Is he/she still in touch with all aspects of the business? Can they reel off existing store sales? Are they involved with the real estate selection process? You get the jest.
Proven Affiliate Success. Are the existing affiliate stores successful? Have they had any affiliate failures? How many proven successful affiliate locations do they currently have? What makes them successful? Do the affiliate stores and franchise locations follow the exact same game plan?
Honest & Trustworthy. This could be the single most important intangible that you need to evaluate. Open the back door. Ask for a list of suppliers and vendors. Call them. How does the industry feel about the franchise and the founder? In addition, you need to call as many of the existing franchisees as possible. Besides providing you with a financial performance picture, they will share things that the Franchisor is not legally able to.
Peek Under The Kimono. No one likes sharing dirty laundry, but no system is perfect. Ask him to share his/her biggest challenges in growing the system? What strategic deficiencies are they working on? Can they identify the top challenges that a franchisee has in the system?
Does He/She Leave the Selling to the Franchise Sales Guy? All founders have a “little salesmanship” in them or they probably would not be where they are today. That being said-- they should not be selling you anything, but rather helping you evaluate if this is the right fit for the two of you.
Big Brother. In George Orwell’s fictional novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, Big Brother was the central character and provided complete surveillance to the citizens of Oceania. The over-controlling behavior popularized the phrase, “Big Brother is watching;” but in the franchise world, having “Big Brother” watching may not be such a bad thing. You are buying into a system with a proven success model. The franchisor should have metrics that they watch on a daily basis to ensure your business is on track. The question you need to ask is “How quickly will you share with me when my train is off the track?” In the end, this is your business. However, your success should be as important to the franchisor as it is to you.
If you are in the process of selecting a franchise and you need some advice or just want to chat with someone, give us a call. We will be happy to share our experience with you.
ex-pert/ekspert. Noun. A person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area.
Nope. Jack-of-all-trades, master of none. Now that is more befitting of my particular skill set. And, frankly, I am pretty darn proud of it. There are too many expectations that come with the mantle of “expert.” I am happy as a franchise lark to be well rounded when it comes to franchise sales and advice.
And why would you want to be an expert when there is so much good stuff circulating out there. Have you paid attention to your Twitter feed today? I am not one of those Twitter types that have blasted into the Twittersphere and have used a service to acquire a bunch of followers (who by the way aren’t paying attention to what I am posting). I only follow people and groups who I really respect. (I have provided lists of those Twitter handles at the end of the post). In the last 58 minutes, there have been 6 franchise sales-related posts, 6-franchise marketing-related posts, and 3 public relations/content creation-related posts. All of which provide good solid advice from experts.
So from my “jack of all trades” file comes a short list of ways to increase lead flow without spending a bucket of your monthly lead-generation budget.
- Find a voice for your franchise brand. This is particularly important in ensuring that any messaging or content is created around the brand.
- Content Creation. Blogging is effective. The key is finding a writer that can extend the reach of the brand through the voice that you have chosen. Here are a few examples of what we have done with some of our clients. The Brown Bag Blog is focused on everything healthy while the RNR Wheels and Tires is an advice blog focused at women and tire upkeep and safety.
- Social Media. Use social media to spread the message. Loyal customers and clients will go to work for a brand that they love. Decide which social media channels will be most effective for your messaging.
- Monitor and maintain the conversation. Assign this task to someone who understands your brand and the voice you have established. Having the franchisor control the messaging for the system is highly recommended. This strategy should be part of your best practices. If you don’t have the time or a qualified team member to monitor and maintain the conversation, contract with someone who can handle this for you.
- Pay Per Click. Running an Adwords PPC campaign will not help with organic searches. However, running an Adwords PPC campaign can have an indirect impact on the overall success of an SEO campaign. Depending on your particular industry, it make take years to elevate your company in direct search results. A well run Adwords PPC campaign can put you on the first page while you are working on the keywords associated with the organic search.
- Organic Optimization. SEO includes site optimization; link-building content marketing and social media. All of this will help increase the SERP (search engine results page). SEO is a long-term strategy and finding a trustworthy partner to manage the program is important. If you are focused on #2 and #3 above, your rankings will increase over time.
- LinkedIn Groups. There are plenty of franchise-related groups within LinkedIn Groups. Joining groups that have something in common with you is “Networking 101.” Post your most recent blog or share company news (via press releases). Each relationship will further the cause.
- Public Relations. How often you publish press releases depends on your overall marketing strategy and what news you have to share. A good starting point would be once a month. Here is a great blog post to inspire you: “Ideas for Writing a Press Release.” Once again, our goal is to increase organic search, so you need to have a plan and execute the plan through timely, consistent posts.
What we lack in “ekspert” advice we more then make up with resources. Check out these additional links to see what The Franchise Sales Solution is doing for its clients. Good luck with increasing your organic search parameters. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day—establish a go-forward plan and execute the daylights out of it!
Worth the Twitter follow if you are in Franchise Sales or helping your clients with social media and lead generation strategies.
The fitness industry has always attracted sport types who have a strong inclination toward health and wellness. I personally can identify, as I spent the better part of my career with the YMCA. When I wasn't working out, I was working with youth and adults to promote a healthy lifestyle. It was a natural for me and though I have moved on to helping others in the franchise world, fitness still remains a daily part of my life.
My House Fitness has designed a business that combines the benefits of working in a job; while pursuing what you love, the result is a perfect franchise opportunity for someone looking to join their avocation and vocation. So you can imagine how excited I was when they engaged us to help them with franchise sales and development. It took me back to my past, when I was able to encourage members to integrate fitness into their daily routines. Exactly, what My House Fitness is doing today.
Over the past few months, we have witnessed an up tick in the number of prospective leads that we receive for the brands that we represent. Not everyone has the financial resources to own and operate a franchise business, but they all have the passion. The increase in the number of prospects has supported my theory that more and more Americans are looking for opportunities, where they can control their own destiny. The role that we play in ensuring that we place prospects with the right opportunity, is more important then ever. We are talking about people's life savings and retirement accounts--there is very little room for error.
Franchise prospects come from all walks of life. We have foodies who want a food concept like the Brown Bag or Thumbs Up Diner and car lovers who like brands like RNR Custom Wheels & Tire Express and Carsmetics. Our entire team understands that providing opportunities which are aligned with a prospects avocation provides us with the best chance of success. My House Fitness allows a fitness enthusiast to do what they love. Scotts Lawn Service provides the do-it -yourselfer a chance to do-it for others, and list goes on and on.
More and more franchise brokers are bringing us candidates who not only want to find a business; but who want to find the right business. In my view, that begins with ensuring that the actual franchise sale is less important, then ensuring the right placement. Early in my career, I helped people realize fitness goals and today I am proud to say that our team is helping franchise prospects realize their dreams to own a business.
The Franchise Sales Solution was very excited to have Carsmetics come on as a franchise client. This is a quality operation that has both breadth and depth in leadership and organizatonal culture. As I have repeated numerous times while talking to franchise candidates over the past few months, "they really have their act together and are a great franchisor".
Our team as TFSS believes in each of the franchisors we represent. They all have proven business and financial models. In a nutshell, each has "great economics". But it is the intangibles that really get us excited, as was the case with Carsmetics this past week.
My 17-year-old son had a fender bender a few weeks ago. He prides himself on being a safe driver and just the thought of driving around in his Saburu with a messed up front end bothered him (in addition to the gentle nudges he was getting at school about his driving habits). My oldest son had a similar addicent back in 2011 and the collision center we took his car to had his car for nearly 5 weeks. So our main concern was how quickly we could get the car fixed (and alleviate the stress of acting as chauffeur, shuttling him around from activity to activity).
He dropped by the local Carsmetics on his way home from school. The sales technician assessed the damage and gave him a quote and sent him on his way. The one thing that Mac did not find out was how long the car would be in the shop. He called back, talked to one of the sales team and was told that if he could bring the car in on Thursday morning, they would do everything they could to have the car back to him on Saturday afternoon. We dropped the car off on Thursday morning, as requested, and had planned to pick up the car on Saturday around noon.
Fast, Flawless and For Less-- that is what Carsmetics Promises. Since the staff at Carsmetics had no idea who I was, we didnt expect anything more then what they promise everyday. To our surprise, we got a call on Friday morning letting us know that Mac's car could be picked up after school. So the day after we dropped the car off, we picked it up. And as promised, it was flawless.
The Carsmetics business model makes sense. Did you know that 75% of all vehicles that have been in an accident are still drivable, and that the majority of these accidents can be repaired for a cost as ot below a cnsumers insurance deductible? This translates into an enormous market of consumers who are in need of Carsmetics.
Needless to say, Mac is very happy with the result, and I am happy to provide a personal testimonial to a franchise brand that I believe in.
It usually only takes a few minutes of conversation with a prospective franchisee for me to form an opinion about the net result: fate or destiny? Sometimes the word fate and destiny are interchangeable; however, I have always been partial to the thought that where fate provides no choice, destiny provides a window of hope and a level of control of the outcome. In other words – your business or franchise should be your destiny; and if it feels more like fate, maybe you should walk away.
I talk to so many people everyday who are looking for a franchise opportunity. The reasons may be slightly different, but generally most believe they want to build something and control their own destiny.
Self-assessment is really all about the process of knowing yourself and understanding your tendencies. It is more then just taking an inventory of your likes and dislikes. It is too easy to rationalize and justify your weaknesses, or to let yourself believe that those weaknesses are overshadowed by your strengths. Example, “I really don’t like talking to people I don’t know, but I am extremely organized.” Unfortunately, if you purchase a franchise which requires the franchisee to be the rainmaker, and you don’t like talking to people you don’t know, it won’t matter how organized you are because you won’t have any customers to organize.
Frankly, I don’t know of many franchise opportunities where the owner doesn’t need to be a people person and enjoy sales (regardless if it is selling a product, service or motivating your staff). So, before you begin taking an inventory and assessing your interests, work values, lifestyle considerations, skills and abilities, first determine if your personality fits the type of franchise opportunity you are evaluating.
Buying a franchise should put you into a position to control your destiny and not be an unfortunate fait accompli.
If you know someone looking for some emerging franchise opportunities, check out the brand new www.bigfranchisingopportunities.com.
Building a business to a point where franchising is a viable option is difficult enough without having to worry about how you are going to sell the franchise opportunity. Business owners are typically tied up with the day to day operation of their business and should be focused on maintaining the profitability of the operation while giving considerable thought to outsourcing the franchise sales. When it comes time to take that step, a business owner would be well served to consider hiring an expert to at least guide them through the process.
By relying on a professional to sell your franchise opportunity a business owner can stay focused on what he or she does best while the sales professional works to build a distribution channel for the franchise. A professional franchise sales company will be focused on catering to the needs and concerns of the business owner and keep their vision in mind while developing a marketing plan for the franchise sales and development strategy. Hiring a franchise sales company is a big step in the long term strategy for any franchhisor and finding a franchise sales partner that makes it a priority to have an open line of communication is just important.
How often and what the franchisor wants to be kept aware of will happen naturally as the franchisor and franchise sales team get to know each other. There are many new technologies that can aide in the open communication between the business and the franchise sales professional. One example is text message communication. Every one has a cellphone close by (I feel naked without mine) and a large number of people use text messages as their primary source of communication. Did you know that 90% of all texts are opened within 4 minutes of receipt where only 10% of emails are opened before 4 hours of receipt? A well rounded franchise sales professional will be integrating texting, as well as other technologies for updates, follow up and any other content communication that the business owner requires.
So, to sum it all up:
- By outsourcing your franchise sales, the business owner stays in control while relying on the expertise of an experienced professional.
- By keeping open lines of communication the business owner gets real time updates on the sales process.
- Open communication leads to trust between the two parties and leads to a positive and profitable working relationship.
Be sure to research the franchise sales organization that you are thinking about hiring. Do they practice what they preach? This can be an exciting time for the franchisor . . . and brand new franchisees can really make it fun!
I have never shied away from patting myself on the back for what I preceive to be a "job well done". This self-congratulatory behavior is not narcissistic or awkward from my perpective; it is what it is, a response to doing something good. My internal high-five or chest bump runs the gambit from hitting a scorthching forehand down the alley in our saturday morning tennis league to helping another happy franchisee sign their franchise agreement. Yea baby!
One results in light courtside applause from my wife while the other results in a commission check and significanlty greater response from my wife. Both feel good, but quite honestly the competive juices flow pretty evenly for both fist pumping successes.
Being competitive is just part of who I am -- I want to win. And I feel that we have won if we are successful moving that franchise prospect through our system and eventually to a signed franchise agreement. However, regardless of my competitive nature, in the end doing the right thing for both the prospect and the franchisor is what we strive to accomplish. Here are 3 things I learned on the tennis court that translate well to the franchise sale process.
1. Never put down or talk bad about your opponent. We all think that the concept we represent or own is the best brand in the market place. We can point out the differences in a New York minute, but doing that without putting our franchise competitior down promotes the true nature of who you are as a franchise sales representative (and an opponent on the tennis court)
2. Patience is truly a virtue. On the tennis court you have to pick your opportunities to hit a passing shot. It is the same in the franchise sales process. You can't hurry the process. Prospects should feel like you arent pushing them to sign an agreement. That back and forth volley is just part of the process to win a point. My dad used to tell me "son, dont rush the monkey, you'll see a better show". Timing is everything, your passing shot like your candidate will be waiting when the time is right.
3. Shake the hand of your opponent regardless of the outcome. Hopefully, you have developed a level of trust and respect for your franchise candidate. Soem will pull the trigger and some won't. But regarless of the outcome check the candidates hand and wish them success with whatever they choose to do. Make it genuine, you never know when that display of sincerity will come back to help you in the future.
Good Luck and Continued Success! (I finish every match and every sales process with the same sendoff).
The Franchise Sales Solution provides franchise sales support, franchise consulting and franchise lead generation strategies that works within the franchisors budget. If your brand needs a jump start, give us a call!
Finding Your Social Media Voice
James Emerson is one of my associates and has talked to me on numerous occasions about the importance of a franchisor finding the “voice" for all of their social media channels. Of course there is plenty of retail benefit from having found the “voice" and making your posts entertaining to read. Additionally, prospective franchisees want to buy a franchise that has a solid social media game-plan and finding the "voice" should be part of the franchisors social media plan.
Kelly Cockerham is also one of my associates and has always been a wonderfully entertaining writer. She and James are both clever and able to quickly capture the “voice" for the brands we represent. The majority of the franchisors we represent don't want to pay for this extra service, but over the long run would really benefit from finding the “voice" and providing branded, and as Kelly puts it, "dangerously clever posts.” Here are 5 ways to create these "dangerously clever posts" and create attention for your franchise sales department in the process.
Click A Link -- It's Where All The Good Stuff Is Found!
1. Know your franchise and your customer. A restaurant franchise will have a different “voice” than a lawn service or a tanning company. No matter what franchise you’re representing, start a conversation. Be honest and sincere but don’t be afraid to drop a little humor into the mix.
2. Be creative in your word choice. Create a catch-phrase, something people will remember. Use something from popular culture—a movie reference that’s pertinent and well-known, for instance, or a popular song or tv show, etc. For example, take a food concept like The Hungry Greek (they don’t deliver, but if they did), call the delivery car the Greek-mobile. I might start a post with: Where in the world is the Greek-mobile? If you see it, post a picture for a free piece of baklava. Or, If you see the Greek-mobile, yell (tweet, reply, etc.) OPA (and attach a picture to the post).
3. Get with the language—Twitter, Facebook, etc. Create a hashtag and use it. Learn some anagrams (OMG, TMI, LOL) but don’t overwhelm. If someone has to Google your anagram to understand your post, you’ve gone too far.
4. Be brief. No one has time to read a tome. Twitter forces this point by limiting posts to 140 characters—get your information in with some forethought and planning--and get out. Write, revise, post. Mother Goose came correct with Jack be nimble, Jack be quick. Live by these words.
5. If you don’t feel confident that you can do these things—don’t. But find someone who can. Social media is an efficient and powerful tool if you use it correctly. People live fast these days, and they won’t take time to read blog posts or even status updates from people or businesses that generally don’t have anything to offer them. If you can just make them smile every now and then, they’ll slow down and read rather than scrolling right past you. If you can get them to pause for you, they may just remember you the next time they need a gyro, custom rims, or some sun-kissed skin before they hit the beach in Mexico. They might click your link to learn more. And if they’ve gone that far, they might just come and see you.
Our goal as a franchise sales company is to keep our clients franchise opportunity front and center. Creative, well written posts can only help our efforts.
Dino Contantino Pictured with Jim Buenahora and Rossie Yimarree - Atlanta, Ga
Last week we were blessed again to assist our client, The Hungry Greek, with the sale of three units to a wonderful couple in Atlanta, Georgia. Watching Dino Constantino's hand shake a bit as he was signing his name to the Franchise Agreement did my heart good. I thought to myself, “This is why I do what I do.” I help these successful entrepreneurs grow their franchise businesses by offering franchise sales support and development guidance and I love it.
Atlanta's Jim Buenahora and Rossie Yimarree signed a Hungry Greek Franchise Agreement because, in the end, they trusted Dino Constantino. Plain and simple--authenticity and warmth can reach across the table, grab you by the lapels and scream, "This is a man that I can trust with my savings.”
I am blessed to work with franchisors that aren’t slick. They tell you the truth and sometimes its things you don't want to hear. My sense is that most everyone believes they have an entrepreneurial bone somewhere in their body, but I just don’t think that is the case. Not everyone is cut out for business ownership. And sometimes, it takes a guy sitting across the table to paint a picture for you that ain't pretty.
I make my living selling franchise units for our clients. I am also the one that needs to live with myself when I know in my heart of hearts that the fit is not good. In one of our recent posts, 2 Core Values of Franchise Sales, I discussed the responsibility that franchise sales representatives or brokers have in the sales process. We are hired by the franchisor to represent them in the process of selling to qualified franchise candidates. In the end, the word ‘qualified’ needs to include more than the financial qualifications of the candidate. Just as important is the gut feeling that we, as franchise sales people, have about the candidates’ potential for success.